Block seating must go

Our View

When student organization seating was opened to a variety of new organizations last year, we were initially optimistic that those reforms would lead to a less divisive student section on game day. While allowing groups like the Honors College Assembly and the Air Force ROTC to participate indeed made the seating program more inclusive, overall, the system remains unfair to the vast majority of students. It is a visual reminder of the many divides that exist on our campus and tarnishes a tradition that should unite us all – Alabama football.

Instead of expanding opportunity, student organization seating has actually expanded barriers and perpetuated a culture of elitism that corrodes this University. What was once an example of the privilege afforded to white male greeks is now an example of the privilege and entitlement enjoyed by greeks of all races, members of the Honors College Assembly and other students connected to the most prestigious groups on campus.

Broadly speaking, years have passed since members of our community significantly examined the block seating process and its role as a game day tradition. It strikes us as puzzling that long ago the athletic department, university administration, or whoever oversaw ticketing handed power to segregate student seating to the SGA. To give a predominately white, predominately greek, predominately wealthy group of students control of thousands of seats inside Bryant-Denny Stadium seems, at best, foolish and, at worst, negligent to the needs of our student body.

Equality has become a much-celebrated term in our country—and on our campus. In the fall, we celebrated the opening of Foster Auditorium’s fitting monument to overcoming the struggle of educational segregation at The University of Alabama. At the dedication for this newly renovated landmark, Autherine Lucy Foster, whose name adorns the famed building, expressed joy at the progress seen in Tuscaloosa over the past half-century.

But the unspoken truth of that moment was that true equality remains absent from every corner of our university. Students, from day one at the University, are denied opportunities based on social affiliation, race, ethnicity and background.

As we move into a new academic year, it is imperative that the SGA, the athletics department, and every student on campus work to remove the stain of inequality at our home football games.

If each student contributes the same amount to attend a game—currently five dollars—then each student should be afforded the same experience.

Block seating, regardless of what it is called, denies equal opportunity. Block seating denies common experience. Block seating denies this campus the unity and cohesion it desperately craves.

This fall, when students return from their summer vacations and high school graduates enroll for the beginning of their collegiate lives, we implore SGA President Grant Cochran to lead. Reform simply is not enough. We implore him to tear down this wall that so visibly, so irreparably and so wrongly divides our student body.

 

Our View is the consensus of The Crimson White’s editorial board.